In the beginning I was a lone ranger. I prepared mailing pieces to send out to for-sale-by-owner sellers and my sphere of influence, and I worked on my Web site into the wee hours of the morning.

I answered phone calls at 1 a.m., talking to other agents, because I didn’t have time during the day. I showed homes for hours on end. When I was in the car with family, they all had to be quiet, as I was on the phone the entire time with calls.

Editor’s note: Inman News has explored real estate agent teams in coverage this month. This guest contribution, by a Utah broker, offers personal insight on agent teams.

By DAVID ROBISON

In the beginning I was a lone ranger. I prepared mailing pieces to send out to for-sale-by-owner sellers and my sphere of influence, and I worked on my Web site into the wee hours of the morning.

I answered phone calls at 1 a.m., talking to other agents, because I didn’t have time during the day. I showed homes for hours on end. When I was in the car with family, they all had to be quiet, as I was on the phone the entire time with calls.

When I was on vacation I was accepting calls in between rides at Disney World, which is sadly the most memorable thing about the vacation. I eventually was divorced and became the dog in the family, as I couldn’t go to family events. And this was while I was struggling just to make $60,000 a year, not counting all the expenses I was paying out.

Building a team

I knew there had to be a better way. I started to make a list of things I wanted in my life. When I died I wanted to be known as the person who helped people and had time for my family: who my kids could say was the best dad they ever had, and my wife could say she couldn’t have asked for a better husband.

I wanted to have a month vacation a year, with no interruptions. I also wanted to make $1 million in commissions and buy a house or a plane or travel the Caribbean and other places. I also was tired of telling people the name of my Web site three or four times.

I also was tired of people asking where my office was — I didn’t have one. I saw a location that I wanted and was determined that it would be my office one day. I simply mapped out what I wanted.

As I wrote these goals down, things started to become clear to me. The Web site name popped into my head one day. But someone else had it. I had to wait six months before it expired so I could claim it.

I came across stories of how real estate teams were finding success. I started recruiting a few people I knew to work with me. The others just showed up on my doorstep. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but we were working together. We started to grow. Next thing you know, we hit more than $1 million in commissions.

After this initial success, something else started to happen. We started to fall apart. Agents on my team who were making good money began to question whether they could do even better if they branched out. Pride started to set in. Greed was a likely factor. Was it that the team had bad agents?

No, I had good people working with me. We were happy and humble and started to have success. This is a natural process for everyone. Once people begin to have success, there is temptation to want more. The problem was that I didn’t know how to lead us all through it.

The ‘growth ceiling’

My team had hit a growth ceiling — my growth ceiling was that I didn’t know how to keep the team together. Agents left to start their own team so that they could make what appeared to them to be big bucks. And so the cards fell.

I have heard many agents say, "I don’t want to teach agents how to be in the business. Then they will steal all my stuff and become competitors."

I’ve also heard, "Teams don’t work, as team members are ungrateful for what I give them." …CONTINUED

And, "I gave them the leads and they took them to another company. I can’t give my leads away for someone to just take it from me."

These thoughts may seem true, but they are actually obstacles for a leader to become a more successful leader. I believe that any team that can plow through these obstacles can become more successful than other teams with the same amount of people.

Rebuilding

I decided to rebuild my team, and I also sought to figure out a way to prevent its collapse. I felt a heavy burden on me to keep relationships. I felt a heavy burden to help people become successful. I felt a heavy burden to help people grow in personal development … not just money. The only way for them to keep earning more is to grow personally, I believe. Otherwise, pride sets in and takes it all from them.

In building teams, I follow the example of geese. When geese fly, they fly together in a V-shape. They also rotate through the V-shape and take turns as being the lead goose. As they are flying they are honking each other on and encouraging each other to keep going.

If one goose gets sick or tired … another goose or two will stay behind with the goose until they can keep going or until it dies. This system allows geese to fly 70 percent further than if they were to fly on their own. I follow the example of the geese in building a team.

What successful teams have that other teams do not have is:

  • Structure
  • Clear goals
  • Team members care more about each other than they do their own needs/wants
  • They hold each other accountable
  • What they believe in exudes into other people’s lives, including their own family and community
  • They work within their own innate ability

Some other insight:

Not every agent is a salesperson. Find individuals’ innate talents and give them the opportunity to excel at what they are good at. Engage in regular meetings as a team. Rotate some of the team responsibilities — help each other out and cover for each other when necessary. Set goals regularly. Show clients you care more about them than you care about your own personal comfort.

If you have the right people on board working together and growing together, you are on track to enjoy one of the most rewarding lifestyles a real estate career can provide for you. Keep on growing those team-building and leadership skills.

David Robison is the broker for Robison & Co. Real Estate in South Jordan, Utah.

***

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